Disc 1 covers a May 27, 1974 3am show from the Sahara Tahoe, boasting a
fairly standard set list and performance (similar to the May 24th gig found
on their "Spanish Eyes" disc). There's a gentle version of "The First Time
Ever I Saw Your Face" with a verse not found on the studio take, plus
decent stabs at "The Wonder Of You", "American Trilogy", "Bridge Over
Troubled Water" and "Help Me" (always an ironic song). Elvis actually
sounds kind of relaxed and it helps the songs a bit as they aren't
typically rushed. A request for "It's Now Or Never" is granted and given a
smooth treatment (excepting Duke Bardwell's awful bass -- he didn't know
College Park, MD, September 1974 represents an Elvis in trouble ever since
I read about the shows in Jerry Hopkins' "The Final Years", as recalled by
band members ("He fell out of the car ... he was all gut ... he hung on to
the mike for 45 minutes"). This is the second night, and listening to it
is analogous to watching a train wreck in slow motion. Elvis' speech is
slurred, his performance (and the band's) is sloppy, and the crowd just
loves it! As critic Greil Marcus once wrote about Elvis in concert, "How
can one create when all one has to do is appear?" Rather than create,
Elvis trashes his own magnificent legacy.
He talks and talks and talks about whatever pops into his head, sometimes
in the middle of songs! He spends a good deal of time condemning reports
of his growing waistline ("I wear a bulletproof vest") and movie magazines
claiming he's strung out (" ... [they're] TRASH ... I am a federal
narcotics agent ... I have to be straight as an arrow"). Horrendous
versions of "Fever" (more terrible bass playing from Duke, who just can't
follow EP), "Trying To Get To You" (he misses the last part, says "we
forgot the ending") and "Heartbreak Hotel" (forgets the lyrics) are just
part of it. He gives the stage to his backing groups Voice and the Stamps
Quartet ("Let me get out of the way and shut up") for two songs, neither of
which are any good. He says to an older woman in the crowd: "Some
grandmothers are dried up like a prune, but you're not, you're pretty".
This is the kind of stuff that people who hate Elvis would gladly seize as
evidence that he was a wasted, no-talent has-been. I hope we don't ever
hear the show from the evening before. Can anyone explain why he was up on
a stage instead of in a recovery center?
A week later Elvis played Dayton, Ohio, and the set includes the October
6th matinee show. He's more focused, and a lot less chatty. By
comparison, it's a much better show. The great "Promised Land" makes the
set, although it doesn't rock like the single. He remembers the words to
"Heartbreak Hotel" and keeps it together on "Fever". Listening to this is
a relief after College Park, MD.
The best of this collection is found on Disc 4 with the inclusion of a show
I didn't think would ever surface, Las Vegas, March 22, 1975. Spring and
Summer 1975 Elvis shows were probably the last of the jaunty, energetic
Elvis show -- they may've still been sloppy at times, but he sure was
kickin' it! The sound is a notch or two below the rest of the discs, and
there are drop outs here and there, but no matter. A one-time-only
rendition of "You're The Reason I'm Living" (with just a snatch of "I'll Be
There" beforehand) is superb in spite of its extemporaneous nature. The
sessions from "Elvis Today" had only just been completed and he puts a lot
into the three included here -- in particular "Fairytale" is given a sassy
edge. Elvis just glows during this performance.
As a surprise bonus, Fort Baxter gives us four and a half minutes of Elvis
alone at the piano, from an MGM rehearsal in the summer of 1970. Some of
this can be seen in "That's The Way It Is" or "This Is Elvis" -- hearing it
now provides a small revelation. His singing is off-mike, but he not only
does a committed "How The Web Was Woven" but a instrumental, reflective
medley of "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" with "My Wish Came True"!
It's a small, private moment that provides some comfort for the difficult
moments described above. This is what Elvis is all about. Thanks, Fort
For the most part, not one of these shows would do anything to enhance
Elvis' reputation, if heard by the general public. But they remain
fascinating to those of us who understand these must be taken for what they
are. Besides, he ain't coming back for an encore, jack!
Sound rate ****
Yes, I do agree with Mr.Savageís comments on several things (Duke Bardwellís
bass playing, etc.), but overall most performances are good and the sound
quality is very good. Not quite up to par with Goodbye Memphis, but still
the sound is very good. If I would have read Mr. Savageís review of this
set before I ordered, I may have reconsidered my purchase (okay, I probably
still would have ordered it, after all it is a Fort Baxter release and it is
One of the down sides is the repetition of songs (4 copies of C.C.
Rider, I Got A Women, Love Me, Let Me Be There, Hound Dog, Canít Help Falling In
Love), I donít know about you, but I think Iíve heard Hound Dog and C. C.
Rider a couple times too many.
The packaging is very nice, a box set similar to BMGís 50ís, 60ís and
70ís box sets printed in full color. Also included is a full color copy of a
poster from a Sahara Tahoe engagement.
To let you know where Iím coming from, my favorite items are 70ís
concerts, mainly 1969-1971. All in all, I would prefer to have this set in my collection then BMGís Platinum set. As I have told other fans, this is a must have set. If you
can find it, buy it.
To place a value on this set, how much are good versions of Green, Green Grass of Home, Iíll Remember You, My Boy, Itís Midnight, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, etc. worth to you? I found A Profile, Vol. 2 a worthwhile addition to my collection and Iím sure youíll agree.